Two Tom’s

5 months. That’s how long I have stayed home, waking up each day to new routines. Or more accurately, reshaping my routines to fit a stay at home regime.

Last week, we had a day with no power. The power company had a scheduled maintenance for which they had to cut power for a whole day. Dan Andrews’ declaration of a state of disaster for Victoria (until 13 September) meant I couldn’t travel to the office for that day. So both Tress and I stayed home to basically do really old style stuff like reading. Tress thought we may have an old battery operated radio somewhere and I knew where it was. It was in a box under a bed. As I crawled under that bed to pull out that box, I did my back in. It turned out the radio was dead anyway, and my badly hurt back made me decide to rest in bed.

Later, when power returned, I decided to resume my reading routine. I pretty much stopped reading (other than for work, morning bible reading, home group, etc.) since I started working from home. The podcasts I have been listening in its stead, suggest I should in fact read even more. I decided I wanted to start with a little book. Tom Wright had been in one of the podcasts I had listened to, and his book God and the Pandemic had also been bandied about by several other sources, so I picked up that book on the Kindle. It was really helpful to pivot my thinking and approach to dealing with this locked down state. The lesson(s) I learned will require extended application and practice but I hope to do that.

About a year and a half ago Greg Sheridan, the foreign affairs editor of The Australian, gave a talk at St Alfred’s. He mentioned Tom Holland’s Dominion and it stuck in my mind. I looked it up and it was a bit of a tome so I didn’t pick it up. That book came up numerous times in some of the podcasts I had listened to, and Tom Wright in his little book also mentioned it again, so I picked that one up too. I started reading it on Saturday and it has been fascinating. I feel like it’s a bit over my head so it requires a bit of work to focus, follow and appreciate the work. I found myself turning to Google in my idle moments (of which there has been quite a few) to read up more of historical identities, places and events Tom Holland referred to. The 600+ pages work will be slowly savored and cherished.

Last Friday night, the little TGIF drinks on zoom we had the week before, had a second helping. Everyone enjoyed the first one we had the Friday night before and this time, we cranked it up a little bit and bought food delivery. We spiced it up so that each of the 4 families bought stuff for another family. Tress organised the whole thing so that no one knew who was buying their goodies and we were to show what we got, during the zoom session. Tress, being the organizer, was the only one who knew, before the unveiling, who was buying for whom. Well, I knew we were getting for Alex and Li Har’s and as it was their youngest boy’s (Jermel) birthday, we decided to get them half a dozen cupcakes. The Hippos got us some Indian stuff – a rojak which we had straight up and a fried noodles which we kept for the next day. We had good fun and I think everyone really enjoyed the occasion.

On Saturday, after a sleep in and brekky, we did some light gardening. The lawns were still squishy from the rains we’ve been getting. I trimmed the lemon tree, cleared some undergrowth on the back fence, and swept all around. Later, after a lunch of the fried noodles from the surprise delivery we got the night before, I did some reading before walking to the shops to do some grocery shopping. I wanted to walk to ease my back into some movement, and the walk was great. The weather turned out to be more sunny than we expected, so after returning from the shops, I put away everything, prepped the stuff I was going to cook and then went out for another walk. It was really pleasant to just do a longish slow walk, followed by a shorter one with Tress and the little black jedi.

On Sunday, after the usual online St Alf’s service, I cooked the little fellow’s dinners and then went out to get lunch. Then it was another short walk, before I did the cook, to be followed by another short walk. I badly wanted to cramp in as many walks as I could, to ease myself to more regular movements and activities, to take away the otherwise belittling back pain.

It’s the start of another work week, and the calendar looks as busy as ever. This work from home in a locked down state continues to grind away and it remains a challenge. United lost in the semi final overnight. Sevilla, the Europa League kings, prevailed. Closer to home, the Hawks battled harder but the Eagles were too strong for us so we remained in the wrong end of the ladder.

Hopefully, Tom Holland’s Dominion does dish out the delicious distraction that will further shunt me along a path that Tom Wright had thankfully initiated for me. Thank God for these Tom’s.